Treasure Valley home market starts to feel like a million bucks

Sales of properties valued at seven figures and high-end construction projects are rebounding.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comJune 26, 2013 

The crash of the Boise housing market took a major bite out of business for people who build and sell the most expensive homes.

But real estate agent Denise Thiry said she has seen increased interest in upper-end properties, including several with asking prices of more than $1 million in Eagle.

"People are scrutinizing the market and being careful with their choices," said Thiry, who specializes in expensive Ada County homes. "But a lot of people now are looking."

Sellers have struggled to move expensive houses for several years, causing many to just sit with "For Sale" signs on their front lawns.

The expanded inventory cut into the market for upper-end, custom-built homes from companies such as Paradigm Construction in Boise. Paradigm typically builds several million-dollar homes a year but didn't have a single such residence in 2008 or 2009, Managing Partner Jim Larkin said.

Paradigm will build five houses valued at more than $1 million this year, he said.

Larkin said his crews are as busy as they've ever been.

"I don't know who flipped the switch last year, but somebody did," Larkin said. The market "has been on fire ever since."

The Ada County Assessor's Office takes several factors into account when assessing the value of new homes, including the materials used, the quality of construction, the location and the values of surrounding properties.

Many of the million-dollar homes built before the crash were financed by out-of-state investors building on spec, meaning they built homes without lining up a buyer beforehand.

Today, investors are building plenty of spec houses in the $450,000 to $700,000 range, but nothing in the $1 million range, Thiry said.

The million-dollar projects Paradigm is working on are for lot owners with the means to pay for their dream homes, Larkin said.

People seem tired of holding off on building plans, he said.

"People sat on the fence for so long, waiting (to build)," Larkin said. "There was a lot of pent-up demand. Now people just want to do something."

Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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